So I was reading the book of Numbers last Friday and I came across this passage that I feel shares an interesting story that we can all somehow relate to. Let’s check it out and see what we can learn.
Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.” Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.” So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size.Numbers 13:27-32 NASB
So in this story we need to understand some backstory. The Israelites had gone through the desert and had finally came to the Jordan where they would cross over into the land of Canaan. Now when they got to the land, they sent some spies into the land so that they knew what they were walking into. After the spies had been there for forty days, they came back to share what they had seen and even brought fruit from the land with them. They agreed the land was good, but they didn’t believe that they could fight the people. They thought that the people of the land were too powerful and they were fearful of them because there were giants in the land. But out of all the spies, there were only two who were brave enough and faithful enough to want to go into the land. Now the others wouldn’t believe in Joshua and Caleb, and they turned away from the land.
Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. All the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”Numbers 14:1-4 NASB
So after the congregation had listened to the unfaithful spies, they grew sorrowful. And they even went so far as to say that it would have been better for them to be back in Egypt. What an insult to God. To say that after everything that God had done for them, freeing them from Egypt with the spoils of the Egyptians, parting the Red Sea, showing Himself to them on Mount Sinai, feeding them with manna from heaven, watering them from the rock, and so many more miracles! Now, they even call to replace Moses with a leader that would take them back to Egypt to be slaves again.
Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us—a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord ; and do not fear the people of the land, for they will be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel.Numbers 14:6-10 NASB
Now when Joshua and Caleb heard what the Israelites were saying, they tried to convince them otherwise, that they were able to fight off these people and take the land. But the Children of Israel would not listen, and they even wanted to stone them for saying words of encouragement. After this the Lord appeared to all the people of Israel at the tent of meeting.
The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.” But Moses said to the Lord , “Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for by Your strength You brought up this people from their midst,Numbers 14:11-13 NASB
Now the Lord says here, ‘How long will they (Israel) not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?’ God can’t understand why the Israelites won’t believe in Him. After parting the Red Sea and plundering Egypt, they still don’t believe in Him. After feeding them manna from heaven and watering them from a rock, they still don’t believe in Him. And the Lord gets so angry, that He wants to destroy all these people and just make a new nation out of Moses. But even in this, Moses tries to save the people, not for their sake, but for the sake of the Lord’s reputation.
Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.Numbers 14:22-24 NASB
So the Lord punishes those who had seen the works of the Lord and would not allow them to enter in the promised land. And in the same way, we too after seeing the work of the lord and the work of the Holy Spirit can not enter into the promise of eternal life.
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB
And I think we can all relate to this story because there have been times in our lives when we didn’t have faith even though we had seen miracles in our lives. And maybe you are in one of those times right now. So I leave you with a challenge. Think of all the works that the Lord has done for you in your wilderness. And write them down for rememberance when you come to another challenge of your faith. Carry these works of the Lord with you when the trials come. Be strong and remember His works.
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